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Thanks to your guidance, I was able to increase my writing score from 6.5 to 7.5, and then to 8.5! I really don't believe I could have done it without you.
-Imam Mohamed

Hi Ryan,
I am so happy to inform you that I scored 7.5 in writing!
-Sunish Manalody

Hi Ryan,
Thanks for your help, I’ve scored band 8 in writing.
-Vladan Martinovic

Hi Ryan,
I prepared just by looking at your videos and scored 7.5! Thank you!
-Rahul Paldiwal

Hi Ryan,
I would like to thank you for your very helpful lessons. I finally got 7 in all modules and can now start residency processing for New Zealand!
-Kiran Kiccha

Hi Ryan,
I obtained a writing score of 8.5. Your videos were instrumental in helping me achieving this score. Thanks, mate!
-Carlos Flores

Hi Ryan,
Thank you for my 8.0 writing score. You ebook played a pivotal role in my success!
-Awais Butt

Hi Ryan,
I read your blog every day and scored 7.5 in writing!
-Vikrant Mahajan

I went from band 6.0 to 7.5 following Ryan’s coaching!
-Viacheslav Porotikov

Model essay in response to a recent General Task 2 question

Posted on March 27, 2014 by - 2 Comments

Some countries make it illegal to work past the age of 65. Do you think people should be forced to retire at a certain age?

Opinions regarding what constitutes a healthy retirement age seem to vary from one country to another. This is manifest in nations with laws, or lack thereof, that stipulate the age when a person is required to end their professional life. I feel compulsory retirement should not be legally enforced upon anyone except those working in positions where age could pose a significant safety risk to themselves or others. The following paragraphs will illustrate the merits of this position.

Firstly, it should be remembered that age does not necessarily affect professional performance negatively. In fact, as is the case with writers, age can often bring a certain wisdom that enhances the quality of an author’s work. Noam Chomsky, a topical author now in his mid-eighties, continues to publish relevant and highly respected material despite his advanced years. Were he forced to halt his profession due to his age, his insight and decades of understanding would largely go unheard. Thus, it is clear that certain professions should be allowed to continue regardless of age.

However, there are other lines of work that demand strict ruling with regards to retirement. Pilots, for example, must able to execute decisions clearly without reservation or fatigue. The reduced stamina of pilots over the age of 65 could potentially risk the lives of hundreds of passengers, and this is obviously a serious safety risk. Thus, there are merits to enforcing a retirement age upon people in certain professions.

As the above shows, the establishing of a mandatory retirement age should be made specific to the profession in question. Such a policy helps to maximise both the productivity and safety of a society.

Cueing yourself for answers

Posted on March 27, 2014 by - 1 Comment

Here is a quick video with a few quick tips on how to cue yourself for answers in IELTS Listening:

For a copy of the IELTS Listening MP3 recording heard in this video, click here.

The questions as seen in the video are:

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer.

The aurora borealis occurs as a result of 31 ____________________ on the Sun’s surface.

Without its 32 ____________________, the Earth would be susceptible to damage from geomagnetic storms.

Here is a transcript of the recording from the video:

The aurora borealis is one of nature’s great spectacles. Better known as the Northern Lights, this natural phenomenon is generally visible only in the most northerly locations. It’s southern cousin, the aurora australis is likewise only visible in the southern stretches of latitude. Much more than just lights, the aurora borealis is a beautiful, complex and sometimes dangerous interaction of powerful forces.

The dance of lights we see on Earth is, surprisingly, the byproduct of an extremely violent and explosive set of events a hundred million miles away. The surface of the sun is an eruptive environment. Solar flares explode on a regular basis. These solar flares release large amounts of energy producing a geomagnetic storm. This storm hurdles towards other bodies in the solar system, including the Earth with spectacular results.

Although visually stunning, the aurora borealis has the potential to significantly disrupt human activities. Its large release of electromagnetic energy makes communication satellites that circle the Earth extremely vulnerable to damage. Fortunately for us, the Earth has a trick up its sleeve that protects us from all but the most severe geomagnetic storms. The Earth’s magnetic field draws the electromagnetic forces to the northern and southern poles in the same way a dipole magnet will draw metal shavings to each of its ends. Once there, the upper limits of the Earth’s atmosphere begins to ionize due to electromagnetic forces from the Sun’s geomagnetic storm. It’s this violent ionization that produces the colours visible in the northern sky.

So, the next time you look at the aurora consider for a moment the forces that are at play to create such a stunning visual.

Sheila scores band 7 in the Philippines!

Posted on March 26, 2014 by - Comments are off

Noor explains how he scored band 8!

Posted on March 15, 2014 by - Comments are off

Tune in to Episode 25 of IELTSCast. Noor shares the strategies that led him to band 8. I feel his description of the importance of transcribing is worth highlighting. Transcribing things you hear in the news is a great way to train all parts of your language. You’ll be surprised how much vocabulary and colloquial language comes out such an exercise!

(YouTube not accessible from your country? No problem. Download the MP3 here: http://ieltsielts.com/ieltscast/IELTS%20Cast%20Episode%2025%20-%20Noor%20-%20Overall%208%20(General).mp3)

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How to get full marks for Task Achievement

The essay in this video was written by IELTS Examiner C. This question was seen recently in Sydney:

These days many people prefer to rent rather than buy their own house. Why is this this so? Discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of renting or buying, and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and examples from your personal experience where appropriate.

Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

In most major cities in the west, people are opting to rent a home instead of buy. This is mostly because house prices have increased dramatically while personal income has not, a trend that means mortgage repayments now account for a much larger share of income than in the past. Renters have more disposable income every week than buyers and this is a big attraction. However, in my opinion, this is a false economy and in the long run I believe that the advantages of buying a property greatly outweigh the short-term savings to be made by renting.

While it is certainly cheaper week-by-week to rent than pay a mortgage, the renter misses out on the large capital gains to be made when buying a home. When I took out my own mortgage on my two-bedroom apartment, my repayments on a $400,000 loan were about $600 a week, compared with $500 for rental value on a similar property. However, over the past three years my apartment has appreciated by more than $250,000, greatly outweighing the $15,000 I would have saved by renting. In addition to this, my mortgage payments secured an acquisition of property that will remain valuable for my family into the future. Financial growth of this sort is not possible through renting.

Renters do not only lose out on capital gains, they also lose in terms of security and peace of mind. The roof over their heads once their lease is over is always at the mercy of the landlord, who might at any time decide to sell the property. The landlord can also put up the rent when they feel the market warrants it. Further, unless the renter invests their savings judiciously, the money they save will be frittered on day-to-day life, leaving them very much poorer than the buyer once retirement looms.

In conclusion, while a first mortgage will cost more each week than renting, the advantages of buying, including capital appreciation and housing security, greatly outweigh the short-term savings to be made by renting.

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Just 60 minutes to better IELTS Speaking!

Click here to download an MP3 copy of the conversation.

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Band 9 writing under an X-ray!

Thanks to ‘Examiner C’ for this model. Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

Many people think that public celebrations (like national holidays, festivals, etc.) are a waste of money and that the government should spend these funds in a better way.

Do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and examples from personal experience where appropriate.

National holidays cost countries and their governments a lot of money. Wages need to be paid to employees despite their absence from work, and a national loss in productivity is experienced. For these reasons, some people suggest governments do away with holidays and instead spend the money on worthy projects. While this might seem at first to be a practical suggestion, I disagree strongly for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is axiomatic that a country’s production of goods declines when workers are not working; however, this is a tiny part of a much larger economic picture. Productivity is a function not only of hours worked but also of energy, drive, and morale. Thus, national holidays, which give workers a chance to relax and to celebrate aspects of their country and their lives, make for a happier and more productive workforce. In Australia, for example, the long weekend is a tradition that helps to unify society by making all feel rewarded and valued in a common enterprise and identity. It is for these reasons that labelling public celebrations ‘a waste of money’ cannot be supported.

Further, having the financial means to start new national projects is a good thing, but the question of apportioning funds in a manner that an entire society agrees is ‘a better way’ is simply unrealistic. A further consideration is the ramifications of pressure put on workers to work 52 straight weeks a year, a policy that could lead to stress-related illnesses and serious social problems. As this shows, the cancelling of public holidays and redirection of funds is an implausible suggestion.

In conclusion, I must affirm that while it is tempting to realise the short-term increase in productivity and savings that would result from abolishing public holidays, the overall cost greatly outweighs the gains.

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A former examiner wrote this band 9 essay…

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Watch a second video like the above here: https://www.patreon.com/ieltsryan

Here is the essay as it appears in the video:

Many people believe that a large proportion of a country’s health budget should be diverted from treatment to spending on health education and preventative measures. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give examples from personal experience where appropriate.

Modern medicine has evolved along two lines: prevention and cure. Many believe that too much emphasis is placed on the latter and that the balance of national health spending should shift to prevention. I am inclined to agree; however, my support is with the stipulation that an imbalance in the other direction should be avoided.

Many modern diseases that require pharmaceutical or surgical intervention, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, are induced by poor lifestyle choices. There is an abundance of evidence that these conditions are brought on by such factors as smoking, excessive dietary fat and sugar, and a lack of physical exercise. I have myself lost several family members to cancers and heart disease caused by smoking. Because the cost of treating these diseases is very high, and the prognosis uncertain, the need for preventative intervention is clear.

Fulfilling this need could be exercised in a number of ways. For one, the government could provide more health and fitness centres, and mount a public awareness campaign to encourage people to use them. In addition to this, taxes could be placed on excessive salt or sugar in processed foods, and special taxes could be added to tobacco products to discourage their use. I believe that measures such as these will in the long term dramatically reduce the incidence of certain deadly diseases.

However, it should be remembered that not all examples of modern disease are preventable or predictable, and it is critical to maintain research into cures for all diseases. Thus, in diverting health spending from treatment to preventative measures, countries should encourage a balanced approach to help extend lifespans and maximise quality of life. Prevention may be better than cure, but it can never wholly replace it.

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